More than 80 business software suppliers, including Microsoft and Sage, have signed up to the Basda code of conduct, which was announced last week.
The code covers product development, testing, quality assurance, documentation and soft- ware support. Thorny issues such as upgrade paths, minimum notice for product withdrawal and testing are also covered.
Signatories promise that, in the event that a user has a dispute with a supplier that might be service- or product-related, it will provide the user with a clearly defined escalation process for resolution.
John Handby, chief executive of UK user group CIO-Connect, said, "In principle it has got to be a good idea. I am all for initiatives that get suppliers and users talking to each other and avoiding the courts."
He added that the test for the code would be whether it could defuse disputes between users and suppliers.
Chris Guest, president of local authority IT managers' association Socitm, said, "It is definitely a good idea, although whether it will work or not is unknown at the moment. However, providing there is close monitoring of compliance, it should do."
It is not only supplier bodies that are trying to improve relations between IT users and suppliers. User group The Corporate IT Forum (Tif) will run a workshop at its February 2005 conference in which IT decision makers and supplier executives will be encouraged to discuss common concerns such as software quality.
Tif, which represents more than 140 IT departments from Europe's largest organisations, announced its plans to coincide with a survey of its members on their satisfaction with IT suppliers. It found that 94% of those questioned thought suppliers "oversold" their software, creating false expectations about how easy it would be to install and support.